Nothing prepares you for what it feels like to lose a baby you haven’t yet held in your arms. While our society is happy to talk about pregnancy and birth, “womb loss” i.e. miscarriage, termination – for whatever reason – and still birth, is still veiled in secrecy with many women feeling too ashamed to share their loss with others.
Why is this the case when miscarriage affects one in every four women not including those who have lost babies by other means? In experiencing the loss of a baby during pregnancy, women are often then tasked with having to search out support, counsellors and practices that can help, it’s not something readily known.
Women all grieve differently and while some women will want to talk to someone, others may turn inward. Licensed Clinical Social Worker and specialist in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, Kate Kripke writes:
“Some women who lose babies through miscarriage are able to move through this loss freely, while others feel deep despair at this loss. There are no “shoulds” in this. No right way to feel. If you feel strong and grounded and ready to move forward after a miscarriage that’s totally valid. If you feel deep loss and grief then that, too, is appropriate. No one gets to tell you how you feel except you.”
In losing a baby during pregnancy, I personally found I needed to take time away from the outside world to grieve and allow my body to slowly return to no longer carrying a baby. It’s such a shock physically and emotionally to go from being an expectant mum one day to no baby the next. Finding someone to talk to who understood was important for me. I felt it wasn’t fair for my partner, who was also grieving the loss in a different way, to be my only support. I was feeling too delicate to reach out to friends and so sought the help of an over the phone counselling service (www.arc-uk.org and www.sands.org.au are both helpful) and with time, an in-person counsellor. Meanwhile my yoga practice became even more of a receptacle to hold me than ever before.
For women looking to have another baby following this loss, it’s integral that you complete the process of grieving for your lost baby before you try to conceive again. According to not-for-profit miscarriage support group, Miscarriage Support Auckland, unresolved grief after a miscarriage can mean we may not invest any emotional energy to bond with this baby until we feel safe to do so because of the pain from the remembered previous one. They also say that unhealed grief may lead to postnatal depression after the birth of a new baby.
Physical therapist and author Tami Lee Kent offers a beautiful description of the importance of expressing our held grief as women and of healing the womb after a ‘womb loss’: “It is surprising and delightful that when grief held in the female body is acknowledged, it begins to move out of a woman’s core. The heavy sensation of held grief lifts. When the womb is lighter, a woman’s creative center is available to mother her own creations. When a woman attends to her grief, she discovers where to lighten her load.“
This path of healing can also be seen as a form of conscious conception – in letting go of our grief we make way for a new baby within our hearts, minds and wombs. You can find out more about conscious conception in the Bliss Baby Yoga Fertility Level 2 Teacher Training Course.
Yoga for Healing
The deep rest, nourishment and cocooning that is needed post womb loss can be found in a restorative yoga practice. A feminine yoga practice supports the nervous system, sends blood and prana to the womb and pelvic floor for clearing and healing while pranayama practices offers a sense of grounding.
The first couple of weeks after womb loss
A gentle, feminine yoga practice is key in those first few weeks. Easing ourselves slowly into this practice can hold a safe, sacred space not only physically but also emotionally. I made the mistake of practicing in a general class too soon after losing my baby and silently sobbed through it. I wasn’t prepared for the shock I experienced in how different my body felt – it felt so delicate.
Our bodies are still high in the hormone relaxin post miscarriage or termination. During pregnancy, relaxin helps our ligaments and tendons accommodate our baby however it also can create potential instability in the pelvis, lower back and other delicate joints such as the wrists. So going slowly and gently allows time for the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles to re-find their pre-pregnancy tone.
Yoga asana might initially be in the form of supported restorative poses at home, using lots of bolsters, blankets, chairs and cushions. You might create a physical cocoon in your yoga space with soft lighting, a candle and your favourite relaxing music. Poses such as Supta Baddhakonasa or Double Bolster Savasana can be a deeply nurturing part of this practice. While still bleeding, Ana Davis’s Dark Moon Practice for Menstruation can be a beautiful guide. A private practice at home during this time can also allow space for tears and audible grief should that be what you need to let go of as part of your process.
Practicing Post Bleed
As you begin to heal, your practice can progress gradually to a gentle flow that allows the body to build strength and prana, healing the body literally from the inside out. Continue to avoid a strong, dynamic practice that could injure vulnerable areas such as the pelvis and lower back and well as wide leg standing poses for a few weeks. Somatic movement that invites the body to move with the breath is more closely aligned to what I’m suggesting.
Again it’s really important you proceed gradually and gently in your practice and also avoid postures that may cause strain to the abdominal organs. So, closed twists, abdominal toning exercises, deep forward bends and dynamic backbends should be gradually introduced.
Gentle inversions such as Viparita Karani (legs-up-the-wall) on a bolster and gentle or half shoulder stand variations may be beneficial in helping your uterus tone and realign, and also re-tone the pelvic floor. Gentle bridge postures either active or with a brick or bolster under the sacrum, will also be beneficial due to their stabilising (for the pelvis) and heart-opening benefits.
If you’re looking for further guidance, Ana offers a beautiful pre-recorded online Yoga for Miscarriage class for the weeks post-bleed that you can find via the link below. It’s also a part of the Bliss Baby Yoga Level One Fertility Yoga Teacher Training that goes into greater depth around yoga for miscarriage than we can do here.
Other Healing Practices
Don’t undervalue the power of self-reflection and meditation at this time, also approaching this with self-love and acceptance. While it may be easy to feel a sense of blame or guilt, these emotions will impede your process of healing. Creating space to grieve and emotionally let go is important but doing this from a place of self-love is essential.
Healing the root chakra can also be powerful. Taoist Sexologist and women’s health expert, Willow Brown> says that miscarriage and abortion can cause a blockage of the energy of our root chakra – accessed through our vagina. To help move the energy in the root chakra she recommends connecting with nature – walking or sitting – in order to feel the “give and receive of its natural abundance”.
In addition, pelvic bowl massage which can be done on your own or by seeing a ‘yoni massage’ specialist may also release holding of any trauma through the vaginal area and therefore on an energetic level, within the root chakra.
With time, this kind, nurturing and gentle approach to our yoga and self-care can help us move forward in life step by step. Instead of burying our experience or grief we will have given space to heal our wombs and hearts.
Thank you to Ana Davis for her contributions to this blog.
If you are passionate about nurturing women during pregnancy and postnatally, and offering holistic yoga classes with safe, appropriate and nourishing practices designed specifically for pregnant women and new mothers, you may be interested in our Bliss Baby Yoga Online Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga Teacher Training course. We also offer Online Extension Modules to enhance and further your learning in this area, covering topics including Prenatal & Postnatal Anatomy and Physiology, Pelvic Floor Anatomy and Physiology for Women’s Health and Perinatal Nutrition & Ayurveda.
Nadine O’Mara is an experienced prenatal and postnatal yoga teacher, doula, and our Bliss Baby Yoga Co-Director and Online Course Content Manager, who also runs her own business, Conscious Birth. Nadine shares her wealth of knowledge through contributing and editing content for our Bliss Baby Yoga online courses and social media, including being a co-facilitator of our Online Level 2 Fertility Yoga Teacher Training course. Nadine provides doula support, birth education and yoga for women and their partners in and around Bellingen on NSW’s mid north coast, as well as offering self care and restorative yoga workshops.
 Tami Lynn Kent, “Wild Feminine: Finding Power, Spirit & Joy in the Female Body”, p. 190 6 Ibid., p. 194
 Tami Lynn Kent in “Wild Feminine”, p. 53 offers instructions on Vaginal Self Massage. Also, find a ‘yoni mapping’ therapist here: http://www.yonimappingtherapy.com/find-a-therapist/
Further Reading related to this topic:
- Healing the wound: How can we best support mothers after caesarian? by Nadine O’Mara
- On Fertile Ground: Yoga for Fertility by Ana Davis (with Womb Meditation script by Rosie Matheson)
- Five ways Yoga can support Fertility (and why it’s important) by Nadine O’Mara
- A Grounding Visualisation for Pregnancy with Anna Watts
- Easing the First Trimester Blues (with First Trimester Visualisation) by Rosie Matheson